As automakers around the world race to achieve full electrification to secure a positive stance on the climate change issue, a study shows that conversion to electric vehicles alone won't meet the environmental targets. Based on a paper published by Nature Climate Change, the notion that a large-scale shift to electric vehicles may not help the environment in a way automakers and consumers want.
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A group of engineering researchers from the University of Toronto conducted a study taking the United States as their test market. The choice was made based on the high vehicle ownership per capita and high rate of travel per capita. The team designed computer models to calculate how many EVs would be needed to keep the increase in global average temperature below 2 degree Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the year 2100. During the process, they calculated a budget called carbon budget that could help in determining how many EVs would be needed to stay within that budget.
Based on the result, the US would need to have about 350 million EVs on the road by 2050 to meet their emissions goals and this constitutes about 90% of the total vehicles that time. The lead author of the paper Alexandre Milovanoff said currently the proportion of electric cars on the road comes to 0.3%. Quoted by Phys Org, he said, “It's true that sales are growing fast, but even the most optimistic projections suggest that by 2050, the U.S. fleet will only be at about 50% EVs."
The study also highlighted that apart from consumer preferences for electric vehicles, technological obstacles like the development of the electrical infrastructure will put pressure on the country’s go green plans. According to the paper, these 350 million EVs would increase annual electricity demand by 1,730 TWh that is about 41% compared to current demands. And this can only be achieved through massive investment in infrastructure and new power plants, some of which may again run on fossil fuels. Also, the technical challenges that would arise related to the supply of materials, such as lithium, manganese and cobalt for batteries makes this goal quite unrealistic, concluded the team.